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3/4 Through Dental School and Still Thinking Medicine

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I have always wanted to be a doctor but somehow ended up pursuing dentistry ,thinking it would be medicine of the head and neck region and only 4 years without residency training. I simply did not realize that the majority of the work is hands and involves drilling teeth of which I do not enjoy and can't learn whatsoever. Even after years of dental school I still have 0 manual dexterity, 0 sense of perception, 0 sense of aesthetics etc. I simply cannot shape, carve and form teeth. I also don't see myself running a business and managing a practice. As the years go by, I regret not being in medical school more and more.  I shadowed countless medical specialties and definitely could see myself in family medicine, pediatrics or internal medicine but unfortunately did not really shadow dentistry. Throughout the years, I've accumulated tons of debt but never see myself being a dentist in the future. It is difficult to imagine a worst career path for me than dentistry.

What is the best option? The plan was to somehow finish dental school but instead of writing the licensing exam, write the MCAT and apply to any North American medical school. Since,  I will be 30 at the time and cannot waste more years in the admission process I would consider European schools in the UK and Ireland.

I have considered specialties like oral pathology or oral medicine but the specialty is often 3-4yrs and I would much rather pursue medicine than a dental specialty. 

Any input is appreciated.


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Do the MCAT, and assumingly your undergrad GPA is competitive as you got into DENT. But you need to beef up your non-academics. Apply to Medicine when you have the things done.

I would write your licensing exam still. That would be a waste and very short-sighted. Having your dental license is an asset, as you could at least do locums or work 1 day a week doing easy stuff to make some income until you get into medicine.  

We need more stats and information before being able to provide direction. You wouldn't be the first dental student to jump ship, nor dentist to go back to medical school.

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I'd do it too if I had the drive and motivation and never look back. Forget about opportunity cost and etc, this is your life's career we're talking, not just money.

In general, dentists have to sell their treatments. Meanwhile, you have people lining up to see a family physician, willing to wait 1-2 hours just to get their diabetes medication refills, and have months long wait times for specialists.

I am sure there are dental specialists that do just as well but I would wager that on average (even though it may not be wise to compare averages in a field like dentistry or medicine), MD specialists do better in a multitude of aspects. 

In addition, corporatization is coming to dentistry, and like Thanos, it's inevitable. It exists in medicine too but I would wager that it may affect dentistry as hard as it hit pharmacy due to the fact that neither of them are subsidized by the government as much as medicine is. The fact that there is no residency set in place as a barrier of entry to practice is detrimental as an increase in seats or a new dental/pharmacy school can easily disrupt the already abysmal pharmacist/dentist to population ratio. 

If you have the gpa and ECs, don't look back and enjoy your DMD (listen to JohnGrisham and finish the degree!) and MD.


I am genuinely hoping some seasoned MDs can share some of their input as medicine is a field I am not as familiar with compared to dentistry or pharmacy.

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Would you be interested in a non-operative subspecialty of dentistry like pathology, radiology or public health?

Keep in mind that dental school is a flashpoint. I nearly quit 2 or 3 times. I didn't develop my hand skils really until a few years of practice after graduation. I still have days where I ponder, "Man, am I any good at this? Is this what I want?" and other days when I love it, and realize that I'm fucking awesome and I love it.

That's kind of how life is. It's up, down, and you have to find meaning for yourself with the cards you've been dealt. 

I would challenge you to consider a) what can you do in your current reality to make it better for yourself, and b) ponder why you really seem to dislike dentistry; is it on an objective basis or moreso because you feel some regret over not having pursued medicine?

Let us keep in mind that regret is merely the psychological difference between your current objective reality and a completely imaginary alternate universe where you did the other thing.

Look inward. Give your current circumstances a fair shake, and be grateful for them.

If you genuinely still feel out of place, out of mind, inauthentic after exhausting all your current avenues, then go for it. I'll be the first person to cheer you on, but also the first person to ask you to question yourself.

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  • 3 months later...

I feel the exact same thing! 

 I still have only on year to graduate from dental shcool and still thinking about medicine, I love to study about human body and diseases, never thought that dentistry is just about drilling teeth and somehow being an artist, which I am not!

I love the theoretical part, so much more than practical part and this is just so disappointing to me, because in case you want to be a good dentist you really need to be talented and fast, and I find that very difficult indeed.

I truly feel you, and if you really love medicine go for it, I wish I could too!! 


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